ing the bridge over the Oktibbeha, while the rest of the brigade was at Meridian.
While lying at Meridian, the Twentieth Illinois, Lieutenant Colonel Dan. Bradley; One hundred and twenty-fourth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Howe, and Thirty-first Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Pearson, destroyed more than 3 miles of railroad, bending or breaking every rail.
At Canton, by order of the division commander, a brigade party of 50 mounted men and 4 officers was organized.
On the 29th of February, I sent out the party, numbering 43 men and 3 officers, under command of Lieutenant Smith, adjutant of the One hundred and twenty-fourth Illinois, on the Jackson road, with instructions to be cautious of rebel cavalry. On returning and when 6 miles out, they met a mounted force of about equal numbers which they, after some doubt, ascertained to be rebels. Following and skirmishing they soon found larger parties, concealed on each side of the road. They fell back skirmishing, and the greater part succeeded in gaining the swamp. Marching by compass they ran upon a rebel bivouac just at dawn. Turning this, Lieutenant Smith succeeded in reaching camp next morning, with the other 2 officers and 25 men. The rest were undoubtedly captured. Several of them were wounded, 1 severely. One of the returned party was wounded. I have examined, with the officers, and find that in the encounter with this force Lieutenant Smith behaved with discretion and gallantry.
At Canton the One hundred and twenty-fourth, Twentieth, and Forty-fifth Illinois destroyed 2 miles of railway, bending every rail, and 100 feet of trestle-work.
At the crossing of Bogue Chittoo Creek, on the return, the brigade was ordered to guard the rear until the whole army, including the cavalry, had crossed. For this purpose the brigade was posted on a ridge separated from the creek by an open field three-fourths of a mile across. The advance of thee rebel cavalry appeared close upon the heels of our own. A little firing from the skirmish line kept them off while the regiments withdrew and every person had crossed except a few mounted officers, when the first rebel appeared upon the ridge which we had occupied.
We returned to camp on the afternoon of the 4th of March.
The conduct of the brigade on the march was admirable. The column was compact and without stragglers, the train always closed up, bivouac was made and broken up promptly. The brigade was not as much as five minutes behindhand by the watch in obeying a single order received on the march. Their excellence in drill was of service. At Clinton and Chunky's the slightest intimation of command was apprehended and executed with such facility that the brigade appeared to work itself.
Captain J. B. Walker, assistant adjutant-general, was unfortunately absent upon leave when the expedition set out, but joined us at Canton on the return. Lieutenant O. Greenough, aide-de-camp; Lieutenant S. R. Adams, aide-de-camp; Lieutenant G. C. Morton, acting assistant-quartermaster, and Lieutenant H. C. Foster, picket officer, constituting my staff, were indefatigable. Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Howe, commanding One hundred and twenty-fourth Illinois; Lieutenant Colonel Dan. Bradley, Twentieth Illinois; Lieutenant Colonel R. N. Pearson, Thirty-first Illinois; and Major John O. Duer, Forty-fifth Illinois, prompt, watchful, and zealous, had their respective commands well in hand at all times.